Pregnant cancer patients who start chemotherapy while their baby is still in the womb aren’t likely to harm their baby, a new study published in the Lancet Oncology journal reports.
The study of 70 children whose mums had undergone cancer treatment during pregnancy found that year on year their physical and mental development was no different to children whose mums had experienced normal pregnancies, the Guardian reports.
Doctors have been reluctant to begin treatment while mums are still in their first trimester due to fear of birth defects. Yet, general health, growth and heart function were all shown to be similar to other children.
Notably, those babies born prematurely in order to allow treatment to begin were shown to suffer with lower developmental scores. Researches took into account variables such as age, sex and country of birth and found that for every extra month spent in the womb, babies’ IQs increased by 12 points.
The research suggests that encouraging premature birth to start treatment is more likely to cause harm than having Chemotherapy while your baby is still in the womb.
Further studies of a larger group are needed to ascertain if the trend continues, but researchers are encouraged by these results.